Using natural reusable cotton grocery bags instead of plastic or paper grocery bags helps to protect the environment.
Plastic bags are rarely sturdy enough to reuse more than a few times – they stretch and tear too easily.
Petroleum, dyes, plasticisers, and other toxic chemicals are used to produce plastic bags. In many parts of the world, not many plastic grocery bags are recycled. Plastic doesn’t biodegrade, it photo-degrades, so it slowly breaks into small pieces. It can take up to 1000 years for degradation to complete. In the meantime, toxic substances in the plastic leach into the environment.
Even when plastic bags are recycled, manufacturing new plastic from recycled plastic requires two-thirds of the energy used to create new plastic bags, according to the U.S. EPA. The process also weakens the plastic so recycled bags aren’t as durable.
Paper bags, like plastic, aren’t sturdy enough to be reused more than a few times.
According to the Scottish Government 2005 Report on Plastic Shopping Bags, paper bag manufacturing consumes four times more water than creating plastic bags. Paper also generates three times more greenhouse gases, and close to three times more solid waste than plastic bags.
Paper bags are made from wood. The environmental impact from harvesting trees, often by clear cutting, and processing the wood to create paper bags has a negative environmental impact.
Paper bags can be composted, but only when they’re minimally inked or printed with vegetable based dyes. If not, they can often be recycled, but the recycling process has environmental impact. Re-pulping, which often requires a chemical process is necessary. The paper must also be washed to remove any leftover ink.
If thrown away, paper breaks down over many years and will clog landfills in the meantime.
Natural reusable cotton grocery bags
Eco friendly cotton – meaning that the cotton hasn’t been manufactured with toxic substances and dyes – can last for years. It’s from a renewable resource, it’s biodegradable and recyclable.
Natural cotton packaging bags are therefore an excellent replacement for plastic and paper bags.
Cotton takes 1-6 months to break down in a compost pile or in the environment.
From an energy standpoint, eco-friendly cotton packaging bags for groceries are 14 times better than plastic bags and 39 times better than paper bags, if you use your cotton bag at least 500 times, which is easy to do if you always use it for your groceries and carrying other items.